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Adirondack Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Highlights: 9/28-10/4/15

October 6th, 2015 · No Comments · Adirondack News

NYSDEC LogoNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the backcountry.

“DEC Forest Rangers’ knowledge of first aid, land navigation and technical rescue techniques are often critical to the success of their missions,” said Acting DEC Commissioner Marc Gerstman. “Search and rescue missions often require Rangers to function in remote wilderness areas from rugged mountainous peaks to white-water rivers, and through vast forest areas from spruce-fir thicket to open hardwoods.”

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks include:

Essex County
Town of North Elba – High Peaks Wilderness
Injured Hiker: On October 2, 2015 at 6:40 p.m., the AuSable Club (Adirondack Mountain Reserve) caretaker contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch reporting an injured hiker on the summit of Gothics. The 30-year-old man from Gansevoort, NY slipped and sustained a non-weight bearing leg injury. Ray Brook Dispatch established cell phone voice and text contact with the man’s hiking party at 6:45 p.m. and advised them to keep the injured hiker warm in a sleeping bag. The hikers set up their tent on the summit behind a sheltered rock. DEC determined a carryout was not possible due to the ladders used to access Gothics, so New York State Police Aviation planned to respond Saturday morning as soon as the cloud cover cleared the summit.

At 9:27 a.m. the following morning, State Police Aviation, with two DEC Forest Rangers on board, attempted a hoist rescue. Wind gusts of up to 60 knots (70 mph) prohibited the helicopter from approaching the summit to land or to lower a Forest Ranger to the ground. Aviation determined that due to continued high winds, a repeat attempt could not be made. The hikers told dispatch they would start walking out on their own. A Forest Ranger who had already started into Gothics met the injured party on the western edge of the summit at noon. The two Forest Rangers who had attempted to hoist operation also hiked in and walked out with the subjects. The injured hiker refused further medical care or rescue transport. The hikers and Forest Ranger personnel returned to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve at 3:00 p.m.

Town of North Elba – High Peaks Wilderness
Injured hiker: On October 3, 2015 at 4:14 p.m., the Lake Colden interior outpost caretaker contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch via radio reporting a member of a hiking party had fallen twice and sustained a non-weight bearing lower leg injury. The 29-year-old woman was resting at the McNaughton lean-to. The Colden caretaker reached the injured hiker at 4:48 p.m. and confirmed the injury. The caretaker and members of the hiking party escorted the injured woman back to the Lake Colden interior outpost. DEC Forest Rangers confirmed that New York State Police Aviation was unavailable until morning. The injured hiker stayed at the Lake Colden interior outpost for the night. At 10:06 a.m., NYSP Aviation and one Forest Ranger hoisted the woman from the outpost and transferred her to Marcy Field. They released her to Keene Valley EMS, which transferred her to Elizabethtown Hospital for further medical treatment.

Franklin County
Town of Waverly – Debar Mountain Wild Forest
Injured hiker: On October 4, 2015 at 1:32 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker reporting she had come across an injured female hiker approximately 25 minutes up the Azure Mountain trail. The 51-year-old woman slipped and fell while descending the summit. A DEC Forest Ranger responded along with St. Regis Falls EMS. The Forest Ranger located the woman and escorted her out to the trailhead at 3:21 p.m. EMS transported her to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.

Hamilton County
Town of Inlet – Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Lost Hiker: On October 1, 2015 at 3:50 p.m., Herkimer County 911 contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch reporting that they had received information from a third party about a 41-year-old woman from Barneveld, NY lost on Black Bear Mountain. The woman contacted a friend to report she was lost. Herkimer County 911 made follow-up calls to the hiker, but could not reach her. DEC Forest Rangers responded to Black Bear Mountain and arrived at 4:30 p.m. They began searching the main trails and reached the summit without finding the woman. Forest Rangers then decided to search the outlying herd paths and ski trails. They located the woman at 5:15 p.m. in good condition on one of the ski trails. She told Rangers she had hiked to the summit of Black Bear Mountain and on her decent veered off trail onto a herd path. This path lead her southeast toward an old ski trail. She tried to follow the old ski trail markers but ended up going in circles and returned to the ski trail every time. Rangers located her approximately 1.5 miles from Route 28 and escorted her down the old ski trail and back to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 6:17 p.m.

Town of Inlet – Moose River Plains Wild Forest
Overdue Hunter: On October 4, 2015 at 9:19 p.m., Herkimer County 911 contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch regarding a call requesting assistance to locate an overdue hunter. The 64-year-old man from West Monroe, NY with known medical issues was expected to return to his campsite at noon. When the hunter did not return after dark, a member of his camping party went into the town of Inlet to call 911. DEC Forest Rangers responded. After interviewing the reporting party, they heard what was believed to be a gunshot at approximately 7:30 p.m. Forest Rangers immediately drove to the closest high point of land located in the targeted search area and fired three shots into the sky. There was an immediate reply when someone yelled back. They located the hunter at 12:40 a.m. in good condition, approximately 200 yards from there the Forest Rangers had stopped. They escorted the man back to his campsite.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety and Adirondack Trail Information webpages for more information.

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